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Can one person be a support system?

Posted Jul 31 2012 5:00am

How many people make a support system? – Morning Question #16

Having a close, significant person as a support system can be extremely helpful. People with a serious and persistent mental illness who are in a long term supportive relationship are less likely to end up back in the hospital. There are several reasons why a one person support system is risky for them and for you.

Expecting one person to carry the full load of supporting you is an awful lot to ask. It is too much for someone to care for your needs and to be in a close relationship with you. How does that person get their needs met. If you need a support system, can you be fully present to meet your partner’s needs. Having people other than your partner in a support network increases that support you can call on and avoids pushing that one person who is around you all the time to the breaking point.

More people in your support system spreads the burden around and increases the joy of being able to help each other. Building a support system is important, so is making sure they are supportive .

Support people are often relatives or close intimate partners. Having someone to love and who loves you can be very supportive. No relationship is ever conflict free. If you and your partner have a disagreement, if there is a fight, you risk your support system being unavailable just at the time you most need one.

We tend to be attracted to and close to people like ourselves. There is no reason why two people who have depression or any other mental illness can’t be in a relationship. If your partner has issues also they may not always be available or able to cope with your issues.

Too many people in your support system may be just as much of a problem, as too few. It is difficult to stay in contact with many people. A support person should be someone you know well and who knows you well.

How many people do you have in your support system? How many do you believe would be ideal?


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